Friday, December 21, 2012

Mayan celebrations, Happy December 21, 2012!

Since the world didn't end as the Mayan calendar may have suggested, I'm gearing up to do the very last of my Christmas shopping.  This means that I need to head out to the Bulk Food store and pick up some last minute ingredients.  I'm making jars of taco seasoning to hand out to a few people as nice little homemade gifts. 

As I prepared my shopping list I realized that my recipe is on my iPod (thank you Dropbox!) but I couldn't access it away from the house.  So I used that handy-dandy snapshot feature and took a picture of my screen.

And now, so that you can make it too (it really is a wonderful seasoning, and it's great to know what's in it!), here is my "shopping list" snapshot of the recipe:

This should make 4 or 5 little jars of seasoning for the Mayans in your life.

For those who wish to make slightly less...

Jar of Taco Seasoning
1/4 cup Chili powder
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup cumin
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp black pepper

For 1lb ground meat
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To prepare, add 1 Tbsp seasoning to your meat/beans, along with 1/2 cup water and 1 clove of garlic.  Simmer, serve, enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Magic Bags (Christmas gift idea!)

I came up with an idea for a "Teacher Gift" this Christmas.  You just can't have enough of these hanging around your house, so even if our teachers have one, I'm sure they'd appreciate another.

(Edited: These are great to heat up in the micro-wave for muscles aches or to keep in the freezer as a cold compress.)

These Magic Bags start out as a rectangle of fabric, 11"x16".  (I used a brushed cotton, $5.00/meter.)

I folded the fabric so that the outside was in, and sewed the 16" long edges together, and then sewed up one of the ends.

I turned the fabric right side out and filled it with just under 2 lbs of rice (I think 1.88 lbs was the final weight.)

I folded the final open edge in on itself and pinned it together, sewing that last bit together.


 You can give this away or keep it for yourself.

Total cost: $2.00

This is the poem I've written to attach to each one:

This Magic Bag, all filled with rice,
Works hot or cold; it's mighty nice!

Keep it cool to soothe a knot
When a cold compress hits the spot

Or warm it up to soothe an ache
and ward off cold from snowing flakes

This handmade gift brings Christmas cheer
And wishes for a blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Hot Cocoa Day!

I just finished baking slightly over 1200 Christmas goodies.  I've posted links to the recipes below so that you can make some too if you like.  But then I found out that it's National Cocoa Day, so I figured I needed to make some cocoa to go with these treats.

I found a recipe on Allrecipes but changed it a bit, to suit my tastes.  This is a nice, rich cocoa that will warm your hands on a cold almost-winter's day.

1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup boiling water

3 1/2 cups milk

Vanilla extract (or some other flavour)

Combine cocoa, sugar and salt in a large saucepan.  Add boiling water and heat over medium heat until bubbles begin to form, continuously stirring with a whisk.  Add milk and continuing heating and stirring until it is hot.  Do not let the milk boil.  Remove from heat.  Add a dash of your favourite extract (vanilla, almond, mint, hazelnut, coconut) to give it extra flavour.  Enjoy on its own or with a crisp shortbread (or, I suppose, another delectable treat would suffice.)



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas/Teacher Gift Idea

I have an idea.  I'm always on the lookout for gift ideas for the person who seems to have it all, or the person who I just don't know well enough to get something they'll adore.

I was tucking my daughter into bed tonight and thought, "It's cold in here.  I really need to figure out how to make a magic bag for her."  (Magic bags are those awesome bags, filled with rice or oats, the kind you then pop in the micro-wave or freezer to get it hot or cold.)

That got me thinking that this would be a great gift for pretty nearly anyone.  And hand-made, it could be quite inexpensive.

So I'm soliciting ideas...

Which material would you choose to fill the bag?  Rice, oats, beans, barley, something else?  Have you made one before and do you have tips to share.  It seems pretty straight-forward, but I'm pretty good at messing things up. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feta Mushroom Tarts with Caramelized Onions

I made some baklava for a Mediterranean dinner that I'm attending tonight, but I had lots of leftover phyllo dough. I took one look at my mushrooms and feta cheese and knew I needed to make something with all of these ingredients. It's pretty simple, but take a bit of time. These babies are in the oven right now and I can hardly wait to taste one!

Phyllo dough (leftover scraps, cut down to about 4 to 5 inch wide squares)
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 cups mushrooms, roughly sliced
Salt and pepper and thyme to taste

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup oil (as needed, in a bowl)

Sauté onions in butter on very low heat for 30 minutes until nearly see-through. Add mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to cook down on a slightly higher temperature for about 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme to taste.

While the vegetables are sautéing, place one phyllo sheet in a muffin cup. Spread oil (with a pastry brush) on the pastry. Add another sheet, repeat. Continue until 12 cups have 4 sheets each.

Place a few crumbles of feta cheese in the bottom of each phyllo cup. Scoop one large spoonful of mushroom mixture into each cup. Crumble remaining feta onto each cup. Leave open or fold to close. If you fold these to close them, brush a little more oil on the top/outside.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.